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Jane Eaton Hamilton: Poems


Two Legs

Jane Eaton Hamilton
From:   Prairie Fire, Vol. 16, No. 2.


We watched TV, my daughter and I,
   sitting forward on the couch,
our legs and our arms aligned, pressing
   as if we could get a hint
of what it was like to be conjoined.

Once we had shared a body, of course,
   but that was twelve years ago.
Meghann said, "Mommy, look! Only two
   legs!" those two words repeating
(two legs, two legs) as the two girls learned

to toddle on their two legs as their
   two legs whistled them sweet down
a playground slide. Top-heavy, joined hip
   to shoulder, each had a spine,
a heart and lungs, but they shared kidneys,

intestines, liver, blood and also
   their red bud of sex. To part
them was to part something none of us
   could understand. If they were
sweaters, yanks of wool would unravel

them, and perhaps then they could be knit
   again, separate but whole.
Their mother brought Cabbage Patch dolls to
   the hospital, velcroed tight
and showed them how it would be, apart.

The rip was loud, over and over.
   "Won't they miss each other?" asked
Meghann, and I didn't know how to
   say I missed her even when
she slipped out of me, the word for yes.

I didn't know how to say their pain
   would be vaster than the folds
of any mother's love. "Do they have to
   do it?" Meghann asked, scared.
I nodded, kissed her and pulled her close.

Four days later, one twin died, her own
   heart not healthy, not sound, not good.
Under my arms, I could feel Meghann's
   heart beating strong, beating clear.
"Mommy," she moaned, clasping me to her.

The surviving twin craned left, eyes huge,
   bewildered, sad, being thrust
into a silence too large, echoless.
   We'd never seen that wide look:
in our throats, hard hitches of hunger.




Jane Eaton Hamilton's works copyright © to the author.


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